France's Hollande scraps Poland trip over lost Airbus deal

image copyrightReuters
image captionFrancois Hollande will no longer visit Poland on Thursday

French President Francois Hollande has postponed a visit to Poland, after Warsaw dropped a major defence deal.

Poland halted talks with French company Airbus to buy 50 of its Caracal helicopters for around 3.14bn euros (£2.8bn / $3.51bn) on Tuesday.

Warsaw said the contract was not in the country's economic and security interests.

Mr Hollande's office said Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault would travel to Poland instead.

The switch over the meeting scheduled for next Thursday is being seen as a display of French anger.

'Poland considers the talks over'

A visit by the French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian scheduled for next Monday has also been cancelled, AFP reported.

Poland's development ministry announced that differences between the two sides had sunk the talks over the defence deal.

"Poland considers the talks for a deal to be over," it added. The proposed package included an agreement that France would invest in Poland to offset the cost of the helicopters.

image copyrightAFP
image captionPoland was in talks to buy 50 Caracal helicopters

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The agreement to buy 50 Airbus utility helicopters was made in April 2015 by Poland's previous government, with the aim of modernising its military and improving coordination with its Nato allies.

However, since the election of a right-wing government in Warsaw in October 2015, relations with other EU governments have become strained.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a swipe at Warsaw on Friday, saying: "Poland is a big country, but questions need to be asked to Poland, notably its defence industry, after the choices that have just been made.

"As far as France is concerned, we're worried because negotiations had started, but also for the very concept of European defence."

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